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The New York Times, September 25, 1881

From the Pall Mall Gazette.

In one of his essays on "Poets and Humorists" in the Parlement M. Andre Theuriet turns his attention to Mark Twain. That author can hardly be said to translate well, and the extracts from the famous histories of the "Jumping Frog" and the "Naughty Little Boy who was Never Punished" certainly look very ill at ease in their French dress. M. Theuriet struggles hard to be just to the American humorist, but he cannot quite suppress a groan over "this coarse-grained comedy," which has "nothing in common with Attic salt." If, notwithstanding his want of delicate fancy, Mark Twain is so much more road than writers of a far higher stamp, such as Wendell Holmes, this is due, according to M. Theuriet, to the "rustic tastes" of the American public. Despite all its primary education, America is still, from an intellectual point of view, a very rude and primitive soil, only to be cultivated by the application of violent methods. "These childish and half-savage minds are not moved, except by elementary narratives, command without art, in which burlesque and melodrama, vulgarity and eccentricity, are combined in strong doses." And therewith M. Theuriet passes on per saltum to bewail the evil effects of democracy upon literature - a well-worn theme indeed, but one which seems to possess for certain highly refined critics a perennial charm, hardly consistent with their constantly professed disdain for all that is hackneyed and commonplace.

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